Undergraduate Course: Palaeontology (EASC10096)
|School||School of Geosciences
||College||College of Science and Engineering
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate)
||Availability||Available to all students
|Summary||Fossils are the remains of prehistoric life on Earth, and they record important information about the origin, diversity and evolution of life, as well as the palaeonvironments certain rocks were deposited in. This course will concentrate on important aspects of evolution, palaeoecology and extinction of the main invertebrate and vertebrate groups of organisms. The course will comprise lectures, practicals, four excursions, and a museum visit. The following Scottish localities will be visited: Dob's Lin, Pentland Hills, Fife, and East Lothian. The main aim of the museum and field excursions is that students obtain a comprehensive view of fossils (and thus history of life and evolution) throughout the geological timescale (Paleozoic and Mesozoic) in the context of Scottish geology. This course will also introduce students to the main groups of fossils they will likely encounter during fieldtrips and mapping projects, and will give students the ability to identify these fossils and interpret them to understand palaeoenvironments and depositional environments. Basic knowledge of the history of life (like that taught in ELE) is assumed.
Week 1 (September 21): Introductory lecture and practical introducing the major groups of invertebrate fossils that will be encountered in the field excursions. Division of class into groups for eventual group presentations on field sites.
Week 2 (September 28): Excursion to Dob¿s Lin (Ordovician, graptolites)
Week 3 (October 5): Excursion to Pentland Hills (Silurian, brachiopods, trilobites, crinoids, corals, sponges, bryozoans, etc.).
Week 4 (October 12): Excursion to Fife (Carboniferous, brachiopods, crinoids, bryozoans, etc.)
Week 5 (October 19): Excursion to East Lothian (Carboniferous, biostratigraphic exercise, logging a section).
Week 6 (October 26): Visit to the National Museum of Scotland storehouse in Granton (putting the field trip fossils into context).
Week 7 (November 2): Lectures and practicals on vertebrate palaeontology
Week 8 (November 9): Lectures on major evolutionary transitions and evolution in deep time
Week 9 (November 16): Group presentations on field trip sites. Fossil identification reports due.
Week 10 (November 23): Lectures and practicals on mass extinctions and biodiversity patterns
Week 11 (November 30): No formal lectures or practicals, but an opportunity to review for the exam with lecturers and demonstrators. Sedimentary log due.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
|| It is RECOMMENDED that students have passed
Evolution of the Living Earth (EASC08023)
||Other requirements|| None
|Additional Costs|| None
Information for Visiting Students
|High Demand Course?
Course Delivery Information
|Academic year 2016/17, Available to all students (SV1)
|Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info)
Lecture Hours 14,
Seminar/Tutorial Hours 28,
Fieldwork Hours 36,
Feedback/Feedforward Hours 10,
Formative Assessment Hours 10,
Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2,
Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours
|Assessment (Further Info)
|Additional Information (Assessment)
||Written Exam: 50%, Course Work: 50 % (40% fossil report and 10% group presentation)
A written exam comprising 1-2 essay-style questions will constitute half of the mark. The other half will be made up of course work: a sedimentary log for the final field trip site (30% of overall mark), a fossil identification report for one of the field trip sites (10 fossils identified, ~50 words and photographs/drawings for each) (10% of overall mark), and a group presentation (15-20 minutes per group, using powerpoint) on the fossils of one of the field trip sites (10% of overall mark). For the fossil identification report and group presentation, each student will be assigned to a group, which will focus on one of the four field sites we visit.
||Students will receive both formal and informal feedback. Two pieces of coursework will be required: a sedimentary log constructed during the final fieldtrip and a report identifying and describing fossils from a selected fieldtrip. These will receive formal assessment. Students will also deliver a group presentation, which will receive formal assessment as well as informal peer assessment. The four fieldtrips and museum visit will be interactive experiences rich with formative feedback.
||Hours & Minutes
|Main Exam Diet S1 (December)||1:00|
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- The ability to collect, identify, and interpret major groups of fossils that may be encountered in the field.
- An appreciation of the importance of fossils, and how they are used in biostratigraphy, recognition of paleoenvironments, and to track patterns of evolution and extinction throughout the Paleozoic, Mesozoic, and Cenozoic.
- Increased general knowledge of Scottish geology and how Scotland has changed during the Paleozoic-Mesozoic.
- The ability to compile a sedimentary log in the field.
- The ability to communicate information on fossils via reports and group presentations.
|1. Benton, M.J. and Harper, D.A.T., 2009, Basic Palaeontology: Introduction to Paleobiology and the fossil record, Wiley-Blackwell (this will be the main course textbook)|
2. Clarkson, E.N.K., 2001, Invertebrate palaeontology and evolution, Wiley-Blackwell (this book will be most useful in helping to identify major fossil groups)
3. Michael J. Benton, 2014, Vertebrate Palaeontology, Wiley-Blackwell (this book is for background reading related to the vertebrate palaeontology lectures)
4. Stephen L. Brusatte, 2012, Dinosaur Paleobiology, Wiley-Blackwell (this book is for background reading related to the vertebrate palaeontology lectures)
|Graduate Attributes and Skills
|Course organiser||Dr Stephen Brusatte
Tel: (0131 6)50 6039
|Course secretary||Miss Sarah Thomas
Tel: (0131 6)50 8510
© Copyright 2016 The University of Edinburgh - 3 February 2017 3:48 am